Thursday, July 30, 2009

Jitterbug

Jitters? Understatement. Energy levels not seen in recent history? Now that's more accurate. This morning as my Redemption at the River draws ever nearer, I'm bouncing off the walls (that's before the IV injection of caffeine) and am very positive-looking at what will develop over the next 72 hours. Yes, caffeine tends to dehydrate but in all honesty, I'm drinking very much at all…plus, I chase it with lots and lots of water. Speaking of hydrating and more so, DEhydrating, the forecast, in true NE Ohio fashion, has worked itself upward to the traditional BR100 mid-80s, full sun forecast. Anyone who know me well, knows my Achilles Heal...heat and humidity. I have GOT to run a very smart race and make no mistakes. Physically, I have no doubts about covering the distance. This Saturday, it'll be about keeping myself out of physical danger from the dehydration.

Last night, I headed out to Vertical Runner in Hudson for the stuffing of all the race bags for runners at the BR100 participants. Nothing like feeling pre-race buzz with other like-minded folks. The race director, Joe Jurczyk was there (celebrating his birthday) along with our fearless Suzanne (volunteer coordinator of over 350 race volunteers) and a few other volunteers to help out. The tech tees are a big upgrade over last year. Last year, we got gray short-sleeve tech tees (I still haven't worn mine…never earned the right to do so) but this year, we are getting black Sugoi long-sleeve tech tees that are gender specific. Very nice. There will also be some other shirts, tech tees, and WRTR gear available at the packet pickup on Friday night. Of course, the ever-desirable BR100 oval sticker that must adorn my car by the end of the weekend. Gotta get me one of those!

Well, there really isn't a whole lot to say other than that I'm ready to rock out this race and conquer it. Unfinished business from last year when I dropped out due to injury at Mile 55 at 6:30pm on Saturday night at the Boston Store aid station. I swear, I'm going to throw a party when I pass that spot this time around! Here's a few things I'm really excited about as well:

- The bus ride at 3:15am Saturday: I could have bummed a ride or gotten a hotel near the start, but the ride up with everyone, cramped in those made-for-kids seats with runners from all over the country is really a good time. We are all staring down 100 miles and are flooded with emotion. Plus, any chance to meet new fellow ultra-runners is a true pleasure.

- The aid stations: unlike the Kettle 100, I know more people than I don't. Seeing familiar faces and being encouraged by them all day long is a huge boost. Plus, the aid stations as we enter Saturday evening and into Sunday morning will be very festive and fun. I can't wait to get there.

- Seeing Marjie at the Boston Store and probably, some other friends and family. Marjie is volunteering at her first race ever this weekend and at a very critical aid station. Boston Store falls at Miles 56 and 60.6, a time when many runners are struggling and contemplating possibly quitting. Her positive energy and understanding of an "ultra-runner's mind" will be hugely beneficial to those she helps. Being an ER nurse doesn't hurt, either!

- The Finish Line: around 5 miles to go, we'll go through the final aid station. At that point, Maria is going to text or call Marjie and let her know she has about an hour until I finish. Marjie will gather up my two girls and zip on down to Cuyahoga Falls. My dream...my vision...is to be hand-in-hand with my two little girls as I cross that finish line. They saw me crumble last year at Mile 55. They need to know that Dad doesn't quit and always perseveres to finish what he starts.

I will make one final post here on my blog just before the race for tracking purposes and any last updates. In the meantime, the webcast and directions to a few key spots are at the top right of this page. As you can see, the webcast is very detailed and will provide real-time data all day and all night. If you click on a runner's name, you will eventually see a picture of him/her. Those pictures will be taken tomorrow night at the pre-race dinner/meeting at Falls River Square in Cuyahoga Falls.

Oh yea, I published the August edition of the Western Reserve Trail Running newsletter two days early due to the BR100. It is long this month but worth every moment it takes to read. Enjoy!

Happy Trails, everyone!

Monday, July 27, 2009

M-Cubed for 7/27/2009

Monday Morning Musings for July Twenty-Seventh, Two Thousand and Nine. A smattering of thoughts that alone don't constitute a blog post but together end up here on Monday morning.

- GREAT three day weekend! It started with a 9.4 mile trail run on Thursday night followed by the Winking Lizard afterwards with a bunch of other local runners. Friday was filled with things from oil changes on the cars, a nice-n-tight haircut, and my deep, DEEP tissue massage by Lori. Saturday, I slept in yet for the 2nd day in a row, ran a hilly 6 to warm up the muscles after Lori's "brutality" on Friday then hung out at home all day. Sunday, I finally got the car washed, had lunch at my parents (grilled chicken and steak kabobs with homemade fries...yum!), then took my family down to the Boston Store in the Valley. Marjie is volunteering at this aid station at this Saturday's Burning River 100 and I wanted to walk her through what to expect. It'll help her to know where runners are coming from and going to. We actually hiked all the way up the rollercoaster hill and down the Piano Keys, then back to the Boston Store. The girls were pooped! Then, I walked them on the Towpath a bit and crossed over to the Valley Bridle Trail so they'd see the beginning and end of the Brandywine Falls loop. We also drove through downtown Cuyahoga Falls so she'd know where to park at the finish line and where I'd come out of the Glen's Trail with less than a mile to go.
- I think this week will just FLY by. Days at work go fast, anyhow. Plus, I took a vacation day on Friday so it's only a 4-day work-week. I'm only running a couple of times this week but will walk a lot around my office's neighborhood during breaks just to keep my legs warmed up and loose. Wednesday night, I'll be at Vertical Runner to help stuff the runners' bags with all the goodies they'll get at packet pickup. Friday night is the pre-race pasta dinner and meeting.

- In my opinion, the weather is the big X-factor. It looks pretty good right now with a forecast topping out near 80F and lows around 60F and very little chance of rain. If that forecast holds, it'll be the best weather for the BR100 in the three years of its existence. I'll take it!

- I rarely ask Lori to go deep and shred everything during a massage. However, I felt so out of sorts in the past several weeks that I felt like I needed a hard reset of my body with enough time left before the BR100 for it to recover from it. I gotta tell ya...I feel really, really good today and am highly optimistic about this coming weekend and achieving my 2nd 100 mile finish.

- I have already posted links on the top right of my blog to track me and all other runners this Saturday/Sunday. You should check out the webcast. It's pretty darn awesome. It's still in testing right now but you can see the format and how it will work. I've also posted links to the Boston Store Aid Station and to the Finish Line. If you'd like to come down to the Boston Store, I'd recommend between 5pm and 8pm. Marjie will be there volunteering until 8pm. Please be careful as you approach the area as runners cross the roads 3 different times in that area and they will already have been running for over 12-15 hours at that point so don't assume they see you...they may very well not be paying much attention! :-)

- I'm really looking forward to the day after the BR100. I've taken a week of vacation and will enjoy every second of it.

- If you are volunteering for the BR100 and are reading this, please accept a huge THANK YOU!!!! I promise to thank volunteers as often as possible because without them (YOU), these events are impossible. For the BR100, there are over 350 volunteers!!! That's over 2 volunteers to every runner! AMAZING! Speaking of volunteers, direction BR100 pie plates were already out around the Boston Store along with the striped "confidence" markers. I just hope park users leave them alone over the next 5 days.

- For the many of you who have become fans of the monthly WRTR (Western Reserve Trail Running) Newsletter, it normally comes out at 12:01am on the first of every month. Due to the BR100 starting on August 1st and my participation, the newsletter will go out two days early on Thursday morning. It is really, really good with tons of great inspiration. Two guest race reporters, race preview of the YUT-C 50K, updated WRTR Race Series standings since the BT50K, and a great Trail Runner Spotlight are the highlights for August. Oh yea, a bit about blister and chaffing protection as well. Check your e-mail on Thursday when you wake up!

- Rest, relaxation, water, and carbo-loading. That essentially defines the next 5 days. (well, not too much carbo-loading until Thursday) Tick, tock, tick, tock...

Have a great week, everyone, and Happy Trails!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

BR100 Drop Bags and Final Preps

The final draft of the BR100 Race Packet was finally published last night so I got a chance today to formulate my drop bag plans that coincides with my nutrition and clothing strategy. Unlike many other 100 milers, the BR100 offers many options for drop bags. Logistically, this is a tall order for the race organizers but provides runners with much flexibility. My plan is to only use 3 of the available drop bag points. Getting into my drop bag certainly extends my time at an aid station so if I can accomplish what I need to with less, I'll do so.

I will start by wearing a waist pack filled with two packages of Clif Shot Bloks (12 count) and will take one every 45min. A timer on my watch will chime every 45min to remind me. This worked very well for me at the Kettle 100 and provides a continuous trickle flow of electrolytes. Also in my waist pack at the start will be two baggies full of multi-hour doses of Hammer's Perpetuem. I may have a few gels in the pack as well. I will also have 2 handhelds where one will contain Hammer's Heed and the other will be water. The one with water will eventually be my Perpetuem bottle from the Harper Ridge Aid Station, Mile 18.7, to the finish. A multi-hour bottle of Perpetuem will last me approximately 15 miles. Notice that I won't be wearing my Nathan pack full of 1.5 liters of water like I did at the Kettle. That was overkill and really made my shoulders ache so it'll stay home this time.

The first drop bag will be at Station Road #1/#2 which is at Miles 36.6 and 43. When I arrive the first time, I will make up my 2nd batch of Perpetuem which I will have been carrying since the start. I will always carry the Perpetuem in advance of when I'll use it so I can pour it in the bottle before I enter the aid station so that all that has to be done is to fill it with water...another time saver. At Station Road, I will have staged in my bag: trail shoes, BlisterShield-filled new socks, 6ct of ShotBloks, BodyGlide, Perpetuem for Mile 50.6 (Snowville Rd.) and a fresh new shirt to change into. After arriving back at Station Road the 2nd time (mile 43), I will change out of my road shoes and put on trail shoes.

My second drop bag will be waiting at the Boston Store Aid Station, miles 56/60.6. This is also where Marjie (my wife) will be volunteering. It is also the prime spot for anyone who wants to see a lot of the runners. We pass through here twice and it's a very party-like aid station so I highly recommend anyone not involved in the event to come on down and "experience" the BR100 without actually "experiencing" it. Park at the Boston Mills Ski Resort and walk on over. Don't worry, you'll have no doubt where to go. Just be careful as runners will be crossing both Riverview Road and Boston Mills Road. In my Boston Store drop bag, I will have: Starbucks DoubleShot (to be drank at Mile 60.6)...this is my miracle drink. It was amazing at the Kettle 100. Also in the bag will be two doses of Perpetuem (Pine Lane mile 64.7 and Pine Hollow mile 75), long sleeve shirt (I'll get chilled as the sun sets), 6ct of ShotBloks, BodyGlide, my headlamp for night-vision and another pair of BlisterShield-filled socks...just in case. I'll also stash replacement batteries in there just in case the installed ones fizzle out on me overnight. After Boston Store, it's "GAME ON!" Less than 40 to go and into the night we will run!

My final drop bag will be at the Covered Bridge, miles 81.6/85.7. At mile 81.6, we will head to the Perkins Trail which is a nasty, muddy, steep trail. If it rains a lot over the next week, it'll be a mess. For that reason, my trail shoes will remain on until mile 85.7. Once I arrive back at the Covered Bridge (Mile 85.7), I'll change into the most cushioned road shoes I can find and put fresh, new socks on. (from here to the finish, all of the technical trail is done so road shoes will suffice) I will also take a Starbucks DoubleShot #2 when I change my shoes. This will be in the middle of the night so I'll need new life breathed back into my bloodstream. Also in that drop bag will be a new shirt just in case I want to change, another 6ct of ShotBloks, BodyGlide, and a dose of Perpetuem to be taken at Mile 89 (O'Neill Woods). That'll be enough to get me to the finish.

Nutrition: overall, I will eat at all aid stations and take Hammer's Endurolytes (salt tabs) throughout the event. As it gets to around dinner time, I'll start eating hot foods and ones that are more substantial. The word is that at Mile 64.7 (Pine Lane), pierogies will be waiting! YUM!!! I love them! That's a perfect thing to eat because they're easy to eat, have mashed potatoes in them, and above all else, they are sooooooooo good! Thanks, Red! I will also have the goal to finish my bottle of Heed before each aid station so that I can refill and ensure I'm pushing enough fluids in to help combat dehydration. Other than that and my constant feed of ShotBloks, the occasional gels, and Perpetuem, that's about it. I'm sure I'll encounter other really good foods at the aid station through the night, too, and will eat quite well.

So here we are < 7 days until the start. This past week, I ran 4 days: Sunday off, Monday 6 tempo miles, Tuesday off, Wednesday 7 miles, Thursday night 9.4 trail miles, Friday off, and today I ran a hilly, but easy, 6 miles. I also "requested" a shredding by my massage therapist, Lori Roosa, yesterday. Just about the time she was going to work on my quads, she got me talking which was the way she distracted me from what she was going to do. Those elbows of hers drove deep to the trigger points in both quads and made me sweat. She got a chuckle while I was dripping sweat...while laying still on table. Geez!!! Well, the idea was to tear everything down, put things where they belong, and to promote strong blood flow throughout. This plus drinking lots of water should bring me to tip-top condition. This morning, I ran easy to warm everything back up and have been chugging water all day. I'll take tomorrow off, run an easy 5 on Monday morning and 3 or 4 on Wednesday morning and that's it. Rest, eat well, and drink water is the plan. Wednesday night, I'll work out some of my pre-race jitters as I'll help out at Vertical Runner to stuff the goodie bags for all of the BR100 participants. After that, the pre-race dinner/meeting is Friday night and the event starts at 5am, Saturday August 1st.

Happy Trails, everyone!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

This is the last time...

Every time I (you) have a big event coming up like graduation, vacation, a new job…or in my particular case, the Burning River 100 Mile Endurance Run…I go through a series of "This is the last time I'll _________ until after I run 100 miles." Know what I'm talkin' about?

Some recent and future examples:

This is the last haircut I'll get…

This is the last time I'll shave until Monday (the 3rd of August)...

This is the last trail run before I run 100 miles…

This is the last "beverage" I'll have before I cross the BR100 finish line…

This is the last day I'll clock out of work until I run 100 miles (this one hasn't happened yet)…

This is the last time I'll wear these trail shoes until August 1st…

This is the last time I'll kiss my wife until I see her at the Boston Store...

This is the last time I'll sleep until Sunday… (what I'll say as I lay down on Friday night, July 31st)

This is the last good night sleep I can possibly get… (next Thursday night)

This is the last time I'll have breakfast until Chef Bill cooks it for me at the Finish Line on Sunday morning...

The next time I see the sunset, I'll be donning my headlamp and running into the night…

The next time I eat, it'll be at the graciousness of the BR100 volunteers…

This is the last time I'll see my kids until I hold a BR100 buckle in my hand…

This is the last time I'll sit in my car until after I run 100 miles (3am, August 1st)

The next time I drive my car, it will have a BR100 sticker on the back window…

This 2nd crack at the Burning River 100 Miler will never happen again, so I'd better make it count and cross that finish line.

No excuses. No looking back. One way and one way only…forward to the finish line.

Monday, July 20, 2009

M-Cubed for 7/20/2009

Monday Morning Musings for July Twentieth, Two Thousand and Nine. A smattering of thoughts that alone don't constitute a blog post but together end up here on Monday morning.

- Congratulations to all of you who ran the Buckeye Trail 50K this past Saturday, especially if it was your first ultra-marathon. Also, a big thanks to the volunteers who made it all work. Without them, no events would take place...ever. Also, big kudos to Vince at Vertical Runner for a really nice job on the new finisher's medal...a sweet one-of-a-kind departure from the same 'ol, same 'ol round medal. Results here.

- Not able to participate on Saturday due to my military commitments, I did zip out of Cleveland on Saturday afternoon and scoot on down to the finish line to see the last few runners across the finish line and help pack up the finish line into the VR trailer. The results were taped up and I'll be honest, I was jealous of a fantastic day to be on the trails. Seeing so very many fellow trail runners up there and so many first-timers reaching their goals certainly brought a smile to my face. The next best thing to crossing the finish line myself is seeing others cross it. It really is.

- Well, it's countdown time again. T-12 days until the Burning River 100 and my 2nd crack at the 100 mile distance in 2009 and hopefully, my 2nd finish line. After my confidence booster on Friday's 26.2 miler on the trails, I am going to focus now on staying healthy and watching my diet closely. I'm going to draft up my drop bag strategy as well and will post my plans here within the next week or so.

- Physical ailment update: I just love the irony of running for 5hrs on the trails this past Friday and having it make my right knee area feel better. That's just plain awesome. Now that pesky middle toe on my right root? Remember how I jammed it 2 weeks ago? Well, it's not black-n-blue anymore, but it is puffy and a bit sore. I really only feel it when barefoot around the house. It doesn't affect my running or walking in any way. Every else is "all systems go!" Honestly, when a friend of mine (John Price) is currently running the Double Vol-State 500K "crazy" ultra-marathon of 624 miles (he's already been running for over a week), I'd better have a pretty good reason for any complaining!

- Another great edition of the WRTR (Western Reserve Trail Running) Newsletter is in the works. Since Burning River kicks off on August 1st, the normally issue date each month, it'll either go out early or on Monday, August 3rd. Regardless, it'll be a great issue with a preview of the YUT-C 50K in Mill Creek Park in Youngstown (lookin' for a 50K this fall? Run this one and you won't be disappointed!), a race report from Muddy Paws from a runner's perspective as well as a race report from the BT50K from someone who ran their first 50K. Our featured trail runner....well, he once whispered in my ear: "You got anything left?" during the 2008 Winter BT50K where at that time, I was in 2nd place with less than a mile to go to the finish. Inspiration will be overflowing in this issue! Oh yea, updated WRTR Race Series Standings will be out as well through the BT50K.

- My plan for the next 12 days: well, I don't have much of one. I had a great, crisp run this morning around home and will sprinkle these in over the next few weeks. I would like to get out for 60-90 minutes on the trails one last time. Options will be either the Thursday night group run, Friday morning, or Saturday morning. I'm just going to wait and see what pops up. My vote is for Thursday night since afterwards includes some socializing at a local watering hole where they'll be plenty of post-BT50K chatter as well as building jitters for Burning River.

- I think I've got a pretty good handle on the rest of 2009. It's sad even to say that, isn't it? Already, we're past the mid-point of July and in just over 1 month, fall high school football games will be kicking off, county fairs will be in full swing, and school busses will be everywhere...ugh. I've loved our "extended spring weather" so far in northeast Ohio, by the way. So for the rest of 2009, I'm thinking this: the obvious Burning River 100 in 12 days followed by the 25th Anniversary of the Labor of Love 5-miler run in downtown Akron on Labor Day, the YUT-C (Youngstown Ultra Trail Classic) 50K on September 19th, 7 weeks after the BR100, the Akron Marathon (marathon #24) one week later, then wrapping up 2009 with marathon #25 at the Inaugural Bobcat Trail Marathon on November 8th in Burr Oak State Park in southeast Ohio, about 3hrs from home. By the way, lots of local runners will be down at Bobcat so you all need to jump on the band-wagon and come on down, too! After Bobcat, I only expect to do the "staples" like the Thanksgiving race in Akron and the 3rd Annual WaterFalls 30K FA Trail Run on the day after Christmas down in the Valley. Good times, y'all!!!

Have a great week, everyone, and Happy Trails!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Bib #33 and a Confidence-Building 26.2

"Alvin!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" That's what ran through my head as I was in today's 25th mile of my 26.2 mile run on the BT50K course. I was on my way down to the water crossing nearly back to my car at Pine Lane and as my foot was about to plant itself in front of me, a little chipmunk sprinted from right to left across the trail, right under my foot. The little guy almost met his maker under the pressure of a nearly 200lb runner with many times that weight about the crash down on his little body. Lucky guy.

This past week has been filled with emotions dancing all over from really good to just plain bad. Last week while I was in Athens, GA with the Navy, I logged a healthy 54 miles but no single run over 14 miles. The last time I'd been up in mileage was that 31 miler I ran 3 weeks ago of the last 31 miles of the Burning River 100. That's when the whole "knee issue" presented itself. Since then, I've backed down on mileage and distance and have focused my energy on being 100% by the time I get to the Burning River 100 starting line on August 1st. Like I said weeks ago, this 8 weeks between my Kettle Moraine 100 Miler on June 6/7 and Burning River is one big experiment. I had no idea how fast and well I'd recover from the Kettle and this nagging knee stuff crept up on me and threw in a monkey wrench. I didn't finish the Kettle with any problems but this thing started 2 weeks afterwards. This past week, it started acting up...AGAIN. Get this, though: it isn't really pain, but more of a tingling feeling just below the kneecap and radiating to the outside then stopping right there. Also, it doesn't hurt when running...at all. In fact, it hurts when I sit at my desk at work, when I walk around the house barefoot, when I drive, and when I prop up my legs on the ottoman in my living room. So, I've been using "The Stick" day and night trying to massage the area and all areas leading into it from my foot all the way to the top of my leg, 360 degrees around. So this past week, I ran twice. Tuesday, I ran a 5mi tempo run, lifted weights, did a wall-sit, and a bunch of crunches. Thursday, I ran an easy 5. That's it. Come today, I had planned a long trail run with one main goal: a boost of confidence that I'm really OK and that I haven't lost my fitness level and endurance. This lack of running is messing with my head and I feel like I might be "falling out of shape" and I needed a good, long trail run. Honestly, I was a bit afraid. I didn't want to toe that trail and feel pain. I also didn't want to fizzle out 10 miles into the run. I originally planned to run from Pine Lane and do the Brandywine/Jaite/BT/Boston Store/Pine Lane loop but enroute, I decided that I'd run the BT50K course in reverse since the event is tomorrow. Distance would be determined on the fly. Well, I ended up running all the way to Ottawa Point which is about 13.1 miles from Pine Lane. 2.5 more miles and I would've been at the starting line of the BT50K. I made up a new bottle of Heed at Ottawa Point and headed on back. One really cool thing on my return trip: as I exited the pine section (within 2 miles of being done), I noticed something with a really wide wingspan swoop through the trees. I slowed way down to try and not scare it away so I could get a look. Turns out that it was an owl...a big one. Dark midnight black eyes peered down at me from about 20-25 feet up in the tree. It took off across the trail and must have had a wingspan of 4-5 feet and had a body that was shaped like a watermelon and was about the same size. I've only seen owls in one place on the trails, that being the Boston Run Trail at Happy Days...twice. Back at the car, my Garmin read 26.2 miles and a time of 5hrs, 2min...little bit over a 5mph pace. Nice-n-easy was the plan...nice-n-easy accomplished. The really cool part? I don't really feel much of anything soreness-related tonight and feel like I could go out and do it again. Overall point? Confidence restored!!! NOW I can taper to the BR100. (it's really cool to be able to go run 26.2 with no plan to do it in the first place...who would've thought a trail marathon was in the cards for today?!)

Bib numbers have been released for the Burning River 100. I am Bib #33. An updated registration list has also been released with the withdrawals removed from the list. 148 of 175 available entries have been taken. The assigning of bib numbers is a sign of all things coming together in anticipation of race day. The live raceday webcast is also up and in its testing phase. Very, very cool...and quite rare in the 100 mile race event "world." The bib numbers are not correct but the format is all set. This is how anyone from anywhere can track their runner through the day(s) on August 1st/2nd. As we check in from aid station to aid station, the time of day will be uploaded to this website. For those of you not familiar with the course, many of the segments can be viewed on YouTube...just search for "Burning River 100."

The Kettle 100 was my 1st 100 mile finish and there will never be another "first." However, 100 miles...is still 100 miles. Things I have going for me this time is knowledge of what works and what doesn't regarding nutrition, knowing that the nighttime is not to be feared but instead, embraced, and the knowledge that I know I can go the distance. If things get bad, I know that if I persevere, things will get better soon...I just need to press on. Oh yea, Starbucks DoubleShot is the bomb!!! You know I'll be using that stuff again!

So for now, I'm in taper mode. 14 days from now will be the pre-race dinner and meeting and then getting up by 2am on Saturday morning, August 1st in order to catch the school bus at the finish line in Cuyahoga Falls for a bumpy, cramped ride to the starting line at Squire's Castle. 16 days from now I'll have my 2nd 100 mile finish and a finisher's buckle to prove it.

Happy Trails, everyone!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Belated M-Cubed

Belated M-Cubed...I simply didn't have it in me nor the time to splurge yesterday morning...

- Happy to be home in Ohio. It was a great trip to Athens, GA over the past week. For those unfamiliar on the "why" of the trip, it was my mid-point training as I travel through a school with the U.S. Navy. I started the school in January 2009, this was the mid-point, then I graduate in March 2010...my next and final trip to Athens, GA. As a reservist, the training is spread out over time. I was on active duty as a nuclear mechanic from 1991-2001 but returned in 2007 but this time as a commissioned officer in the Navy's Supply Corps...and this is Supply Corps training. Get it? After I graduate next year, I become a usable "asset" to the Navy and expect some big events to occur in my and my family's life. Standing by...

- Anyone in the mood for "The Grit"? Dang, I already miss that cafe. I wish I knew of a place like it up here.

- Over the weekend, the Hardrock 100 took place and Gombu (Bob Combs) finished yet another one in 46 hours. Unlike the Kettle 100 that I did and the majority of other 100 milers with 30hr cutoffs, the Hardrock has a 48hr cutoff. It takes place in the Rocky Mountains, crests one of the 14'ers, and is one unbelieveable event. Just to register for the lottery, you have to "qualify" by running and completing another major mountain 100 miler. Kudos to Bob Combs (who has provided me much guidance on my 100 mile training) for a "Job Well Done!" Bob also directs the YUT-C 50K in Mill Creek Park in September. (plug, plug!)

- This weekend, it's a busy one. The sold-out Buckeye Trail 50K takes place here in my backyard. It was my first ultra-marathon 2 years ago. Unfortunately, the Navy calls once again and I cannot run it this year. But to be honest, if I could have adjusted those obligations, I would be volunteering for it and not running it. With Burning River only 14 days after the BT50K and running the Kettle 100 six weeks prior, I had decided it would be a poor decision to run it this year...even if I could. I'm really bummed about not being able to volunteer, though. Some things, I can't change. Also this weekend is another popular 100 miler, the Vermont 100. A few locals are heading up and I'll be sure to be logging in and tracking them. Last year was nasty weather so here's hoping for a great weather weekend.

- I ended up with 54 miles last week on 5 days of running and 6 total runs. Nothing super long and crazy, just nice steady runs in a variety of conditions with the goal of staying healthy and injury free before Burning River. No point in super-long runs right now. On Saturday morning, I ran 10 around Athens in 90% humidity and 70F. By afternoon, the mercury reached 90F with humidity around 50% with clear, sunny skies so I took advantage of the opportunity of some hot training in the sun and headed out for the 2nd time that day and knocked out a good "mental" 6 miles. I've had very little hot weather training for Burning River so I'll take anything I can get right now.

- Today marks only 18 days until my 2nd shot at the 100 mile distance this year at Burning River. I can't believe how fast this time has passed since my Kettle 100 finish on June 7th. I'm anxious for it to get here. It is going to be a blast and an entirely different experience as compared to the Kettle. I will know more people than not during the event. From participants to volunteers, there will be many familiar faces. It will also be much more warmer and humid but I am looking forward to staring down this race and cracking it wide open once and for all. Enough of my memories from last year over 55 miles...time to replace them with 100 new miles of memories. I also have a veteran ultra-runner and previous Burning River 100 finisher who has volunteered to pace me either the last 30 or 40 miles to the finish. I'll definitely embrace the company, encouragement, and occasional kick-n-the-butt that I'll need! Thanks!

- Anyone out there wondering where the heat and humidity are that are commonplace this time of year in NE Ohio? Days upon days in the upper 70s, low humidity, and lows at night in the lower 50s? I'm surely not unhappy about it but it's so rare. This Saturday's BT50K is going to be bone dry and perfect weather. History has been hot/humid/muggy for this event. I'm guessing that the heat/humidity will show up around noon on August 1st while I'm trucking down the Towpath at the BR100. :-)

- The Physical: OK, a little update about my knee, etc. I've been very careful lately and hypersensitive to everything physical with the ultimate goal of showing up at 100% readiness for the BR100. Knowing that I have a very recent 100 mile finish in my back pocket, my goal has been to stay healthy and ensure I do nothing to jeopardize BR. All together, I feel very good. The only time I ever feel anything around my knee is during extended times sitting (ie: at work) or on days off from running (ironic, eh?). While running, it feels wonderful. I continue to use "The Stick" daily and will continue that practice. The other thing was that middle right foot toe that I jammed so hard a few weeks ago. It's color has returned to normal but it still aches now and then and remains slightly swollen. However, it doesn't impede walking or running. I just notice it from time to time and mostly while barefoot around the house. Other than those two things, I feel really good. I will back down the mileage from this point on towards BR and shift some of my running effort onto some cardio, static exercises, and bench press workouts, but nothing too strenuous.

- One good confidence-building trail run is what I need: since I can't run the BT50K this weekend or run any trails at all this weekend, I'm going to run from Pine Lane THIS Friday at 6am. My plan is to be out there for 4-5 hours and move at a nice-n-easy, steady pace. If you'd like to join me, let me know.

Good luck to the many of you running the BT50K this weekend and thank you if you are volunteering at the event. No volunteers = no event!

Happy Trails, everyone!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Return to 'The Grit' and a new book

After last night's first encounter at The Grit here in Athens, I had to return for a repeat performance to see if I could be amazed two nights in a row. Many of the reviews I read online said that the "Golden Bowl" was a must-try at The Grit so following in the footsteps of those before me, I ordered it and added the optional cheese on top and grilled veggies down below including broccoli, mushrooms, onions, and carrots. The standard Bowl is browned tofu cubes sautéed with soy sauce and nutritional yeast served over brown rice. The only part of that which made me a little bit uneasy was the tofu. It just hasn't ever looked good on the grocery shelf but I've heard it can be really good if cooked correctly. Well correct it was because this dish was fantastic! The 'browned' tofu had an interesting surface and taste but it went well with the entire mixture and there was an abundance of it on the plate as you can see in the picture. I thoroughly enjoyed the meal and will certainly return here on my next and final trip to Athens in March 2010. The only thing (or person) missing tonight was Marjie... :-(

Afterwards, I craved one thing...an iced coffee with some milk and cinnamon syrup. Since the solo Starbucks in Athens was too far out of the way, I made my way to the Borders bookstore that I'd been running by each morning and got my fix of iced coffee. While there, I also wanted to search for books by Dr. Sarno. Dr. Sarno is referenced in the newly-released August edition of Runner's World. Ben Cheever writes about his experience with pain/injury and eventually coming across Dr. Sarno, a controversial doctor who has drawn fire from the medical profession for this stance on psychosomatic illnesses, those illnesses that connect the mind to physical ailments. What intrigues me so much about this is the kind of people very susceptible to the main condition of TMS (Tension Myoneural Syndrome): work in high stress environments, hardworking, perfectionists. Dang, that's me down to the letter. In a tiny little nutshell, his theory is that the brain will decrease bloodflow to the nerves in the lower back thus reducing the oxygen levels in the area. This results in lower back pain. I'm not a medical person by any means but I really want to read his book "The Divided Mind: The Epidemic of Mindbody Disorders" and will be the next book I read after the one I picked up tonight. (see below the video) Dr. Sarno has a strong belief that so much stuff has been misdiagnosed in this country and we've grown dependent on drugs to cure it all. He doesn't dispute that people do have physical issues, but that many times, it's the mind causing the trouble. It's definitely not a 'one size fits all' diagnosis. Still, I find it captivating and look forward to reading about it. Below is from a NBC News story that interviewed him and gave a birds-eye overview of his theory.


Afterwards, I sweet-talked the ladies at the counter and said I'd received a 25% off coupon in my e-mail (which I had) but didn't have it with me. They happily said I could get the discount if they could look up my Rewards account. Happy with that, I went back and grabbed "Born to Run" by Christopher McDougall. This book has been all the rage lately in ultra-running circles and one that I've been dying to pick up. I'm a slow reader so I only knocked out 2 chapters tonight but so far, so good. I can tell there will be all kinds of quotes to repeat in this book but here's one already in the 2nd chapter. The author is talking about spikes in the running population after major negative nationwide events. The last one he mentioned was the 9/11 terrorist attacks on our country and he says: "...trail-running suddenly became the fastest-growing outdoor sport in the country. Maybe it was a coincidence. Or maybe there's a trigger in the human psyche, a coded response that activates our first and greatest survival skill when we sense the raptors approaching. In terms of stress relief and sensual pleasure, running is what you have in your life before you have sex. The equipment and desire come factory installed; all you have to do is let 'er rip and hang on for the ride."

Get out there everyone, and Happy Trails!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Indian Food & Time Alone

As the majority of my family headed to the beach, I headed a different direction to Athens, GA where I am on active duty for some more training with the Navy. Many of you may remember my trip here back in January when I went up to the Chattahoochee National Forest for 20 miles of gorgeous trails. While the daytime brings time in the classroom, the mornings are reserved for new territory to run in and the night is reserved for seeking out the cool, local establishments often found in a college town. This is the home of UGA (University of Georgia) and is full of places to seek out.

While far from a vegan or a vegetarian, I love restaurants that are. I've never been to one I didn't love. The Flaming Ice Cube in Boardman is
really good, many of you surely know about VegiTerranean just north of downtown Akron in the Northside Lofts, and down here, the local favorite is The Grit. A quick Google search online revealed customer reviews that overwhelmingly loved it so after a stop at the tour/tasting at the Terrapin tonight, I headed to The Grit. It's located in a turn-of-the-century building that has been a pharmacy, a natural gas wholesaler, and several other things. Now, it takes two storefronts on the border of UGA.
Inside, the original walls remain unfinished and rough and local artists' work adorn the walls. I had studied the menu online but once I got there, I drew a total blank. What did catch my eye was a multitude of Indian foods. It was Indian night and the special was essentially a sampling of Indian foods from those with some heat to a little bit of sweetness. To the right, you can see what I saw. Kudos to you if any of it makes sense to you. For me, I typically shy away from anything that includes the word "curry" as I'm a big wimp when it comes to spicy foods. However, my waiter said it wasn't too bad plus grilled flatbread came with it which could tame down the flames if necessary. Good thing I didn't order anything in addition to this sampler because at the end, I was stuffed to the gills. With so many "foreign" things, I'm hoping my body accepts it all and the night/morning are uneventful. It sure did taste good...that's for sure! Below is a picture of it all on the plate before I enjoyed it all. I labeled it just to help make sense of it all. That green stuff (Saag) looked gross but it was pretty darn good and even better with the flatbread.
This trip has already provided the time to digest all of the recent happenings in my life and things to come. I am very happy with much in my life including my family, my career, and my running. My raw approach to life and honesty/truth in everything has proven to not be so popular in some circles but that's an acceptable price to pay. I've been one happiest alone or besides my wife for a very long time. I certainly appreciate all of the friends I have gained in the local running community and they are very important to me and I love every opportunity to share the trails with them or a relaxing post-run dinner in the Valley. I thoroughly enjoy seeing them reach their goals, I am sad when they get injured, and I soak up all the encouragement they throw my way as I hit obstacles or cross big finish lines. For that, I thank them. I hope to continue to meet new people and to keep kickin' up the dirt with others for a very long time to come.

Happy Trails, everyone! (23 days until the Burning River 100 Mile Endurance Run!)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Just Cruising Along

After my flying squirrel launch from the trail on Sunday afternoon as my right middle toe gave its best effort to leave my body and snag a root on the Buckeye Trail, I pressed on for another 8 miles and stuck to the plan for a group run on Monday night. The toe really has been feeling not too bad. Ironically, I finished last night's run and the bluish tint to it subsided a bit during the run, instead of being more beat up and a darker blue. Come this morning and the blue has morphed into more of a red with only hints of blue. It's cool to watch the body fix and repair itself almost in real time. As I got some alone time with my girls away for the evening, I headed down to the Valley last night after putting the word out about a Monday night trail run from the Boston Store. After squeezing in some extra miles before my posted started time, a shocking 5 others showed up to run with me on a route I estimated at 10-11 miles and would cover bits of the Brandywine, Valley Bridle, and Buckeye Trails. The run really was super. It was nice and warm, the deer flies weren't too bad (as long as we didn't walk), and most importantly, my right knee continued to feel great. I finished up with 14 miles for the evening and felt like much more was in the tank. However, I've resolved to the fact that my number one goal for the next 25 days until Burning River is to stay healthy and fresh in my running. I'm trained so no need to risk anything at all that could jeopardize this next event. "So-so" long runs will be on tap with nothing really too far. I'd like to keep the mileage in the 30-50 range for the time being and just pay close attention to every foot fall and any "squeak or rattle" that my body might throw at me. To that end, you'll notice a lot of question marks in my weekly schedule off to the right. I am truly taking it day by day and running whatever feels right. If my body signals "rest" then rest it is...like today. Not planning out the week and feeling obligated by that schedule is a tool I will use to focus my attention on the physical rather than a "schedule." (Treatment of the muscles in my legs via "The Stick" will continue on a daily basis just to keep things fresh and scar tissue away from the area.) I'll get back to a normal schedule, but first things first...that being a Burning River buckle. That loop, by the way, ended up being 10.4 miles tonight so I was dead on my 10-11 miles estimation. It really was a great route with such a wide variety of terrain, difficulty, and surroundings. Afterwards, I kicked back at the Winking Lizard in Peninsula with Brian and Jeff Musick...it was wing night!

It really felt great to be a trail runner last night and as night fell on the Valley and a full, bright moon illuminated the tree-tops in the Valley, I just let it soak in and relish in the greatness of an abundant natural resource we have here at our disposal...the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. I am really looking forward to sharing it with an ultrarunning crowd from all over the country on August 1st and 2nd as between 100-175 runners will embark on the 100 mile journey from Squire's Castle in the Chagrin Reservation to downtown Cuyahoga Falls. Registration is on the move and ahead of previous years and many notable, very successful runners have just recently registered. As of now, less than 25 open spots remain for the August 1st event which sells out at 175 runners. Here's who is registered so far and where they are coming from. I am really looking forward to the day, seeing so many volunteer friends at the aid stations, and even seeing some folks who I ran with at the Kettle 100 who have decided to come here and run Burning River.

Thanks to Dave, Marty, Jeff, Brian, and Chris for the company last night. It was a great night to escape to the trails with you all.

Happy Trails, everyone!

Monday, July 6, 2009

M-Cubed for 7/6/2009

Monday Morning Musings for July Sixth, Two Thousand and Nine. A smattering of thoughts that alone don't constitute a blog post but together end up here on Monday morning.

- I just love federal holidays. I love them more than ever because for the last 15 months, I've had a federal job...therefore, last Friday was a holiday! Yea! To maximize trail time, I posted an 11 mile trail run at 7am to go from Pine Lane to Blue Hen Falls and back aboard the Buckeye Trail. Going to sleep on Thursday night, I hadn't received any RSVPs but by the time I arrived, 6 others were waiting. The trails were meant to be shared....plus, with this particular group that arrived, good conversation awaited and like we say out there...what's said on the trails...stays on the trails! I got back feeling pretty good with some discomfort around my knee area but I immediately worked the area with "The Stick" and it felt better. I did that a few more times during the day.

- The 4th of July started with sleeping in, for one. Being off my game, so to speak, gave me the excuse to skip all of the local holiday road races. Instead, we headed on over to the Stow Parade, the best local parade of the year. It lasts over an hour and a half and it's one of the few parades that let the fire trucks blast their horns. Most communities have banned this practice. My favorite float, hands down, was this LIVE re-creation of the Iwo Jima, Marine Corps Memorial. Those guys' arms had to be killing by the end of the parade.

- The afternoon was filled with relaxing at Marjie's aunt and uncle's pond/pavilion for a cookout. Good food/bad food (it depends on your perspective, right?!) and just kickin' back and relaxing with Marjie and the girls.

- My youngest brother is a flight nurse with Akron Children's Hospital and works on their new helicopter, "Air Bear." Well, the helo pad on top of the hospital is directly...and I mean directly across from the downtown Akron fireworks launch site. We had THE best seat in the house. Right smack in front of us high atop the hospital under the shadow of Air Bear. Super, super time...and many thanks goes out again to my brother for the invite. It really doesn't get much better than that.

- OK, so we get home after the fireworks, get the kids down to bed (very late by our standards) and hit the sack. Asleep. Not for long, though...at 12:30am, our house alarm/siren goes off. For the 5+ years that we've lived here, it has never been set off during the night. We spring out of bed fully thinking that we were being broken into. We disarm the alarm and open the door. Totally disoriented, we stumble out our bedroom door and Marjie turns on the patio light which is adjacent to our bedroom. Out the window, I see the security light on and my DAUGHTER walking around the corner!!! I open the door, yell for her, and she just stood there stunned. Long story short...she was sleep-walking and didn't remember going out there. Still disoriented, the phone rings just as it should and the security company is on the other end wondering if they should send the calvary to our location. I stumble for the password and let them know what happened. Marjie put her back to bed and we headed back to bed...totally stressed. We just lay there pondering the "what-if's"...what if we had no alarm and she kept walking? What if we were being broken into? I also was afraid for my daughter and needed her with us for the rest of the night...I was just a mess in my head. Marjie went and got her and all was well. In the morning, one of her right toes was all swollen. Fearing a broken or dislocated toe, Marjie had her checked out and no broken toe, thank goodness. Turns out that as she raced out the door...asleep, she stubbed her toe on some patio furniture. Wow...what a night!

- Sunday, my knee really felt much better. I'd been using "The Stick" a lot and drinking lots of water and I believe it was paying off. I really wanted to get on the trails and avoid all asphalt or concrete. I took my running gear to church just in case I could scoot down to the trails afterwards and things worked out that I could get some trail time in. I really felt like a good pain-free trail run was possible. I headed out again from Pine Lane on the Buckeye Trail and felt really, really good. Temps were in the mid-70s and full sun. One of the first things I noticed is that about 7/10 of a mile in, before the water crossing, they (perhaps the CVNP or the Buckeye Trail Association?) have blazed a new trail where a tree had come down over the winter. They went up the hill a bit, created a rise, and did a fantastic job. Thank you! Come around Mile 2 and the entry to the row of pines where Pine Lane gets its name, my right foot either caught an immovable rock or a root. I hit that thing harder than anything ever in my life. I went flying and landed on my right side and wow...my right toes hurt BAD. It really felt like I did some damage but I hopped up and got running again paying no mind to the discomfort. I got to Boston Store at 4.05 miles in 40min, 3sec...quite a brisk pace and an indicator that I really was feeling good. I turned around and finished the 8.1 miles in 1hr, 22 min. That's practically my Winter BT50K race pace so I was super happy with this and ZERO discomfort in my knee. It truly felt 100%. I cooled down for 2 miles on the Valley Bridle Trail to bring me up to an even 10 for the day. Talk about a confidence boosting type of run. I really felt good again. On the way home, I stopped at the ER where my wife was working and luckily, that ugly toe above isn't broken, just badly bruised. Yippee!

- If you are interested, I'm leading a group trail run tonight, July 6th, from the Boston Store at 6pm. We'll be covering parts of the Valley Bridle Trail, stopping by the Brandywine Falls, and returning on the Buckeye Trail via the Snowville entrance which is also Mile 50 of the Burning River 100. Total mileage will be between 10 and 11 miles. Dinner at Fishers or the Winking Lizard afterwards.


Have a great week, everyone, and Happy Trails!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Knee Update and the 4th of July

Geez...yesterday's post stirred up a bit of a hornet's nest in my e-mail inbox! Along with the many public comments you can see at the end of that post, I received many private e-mails from friends who understood what I was saying and wanted to chime in with some advice or to let me know they're going through the exact same thing themselves. By the way, while I don't post many "negative" things here at RTRSBM, I also want to be transparent and "real" and not give the perception that things are always smooth-sailin'...because they're not. Maybe a mistake I make will be used to help a reader NOT make the same mistake themselves. To that end, here's an update:

One person who e-mailed mentioned about massaging and stretching the area. The IT band area is nearly impossible to stretch but it is possible to massage all of the muscles heading into the knee area. I believe the irritation/discomfort is from scar tissue from so much pounding along with my 100-miler. That scar tissue in the general area needs to be broken free. So, I pulled out my "Stick" which I picked up over 10 years ago when I started running. It has handles on each end, has plastic spindles that 'float' freely and spin on a center plastic rod that is highly flexible. It allows the user to compress and stretch the muscle. I worked the area a bit last night, again this morning seconds before hitting the trails, and immediately following the trail run. I can tell an immediate difference after using it. I am going to continue to work on the area multiple times per day and continue to increase my water intake to help clear the area to facilitate healing. To that end, I believe that light running which warms up the area and increases blood flow to the area is also helpful. While I am most definitely backing off on long distance runs for the time-being, I am going to keep some short stuff going and getting to the trails whenever possible since that provides a very soft and comfortable ride.

Last night before bed, I didn't have any replies to my posted Friday morning trail run but by morning, a few RSVP'd and when I got to the Pine Lane trail head, 6 others were waiting to go. We headed out easy and my knee felt good. It was about a 60F, 85% humidity, rainy, muddy, foggy trail run. We headed to the Boston Store and continued on to Blue Hen Falls for about 5.5 miles then turned around and traced our steps back. For the last few miles, the others felt like picking up the pace so I let them all go and kept to my plan of easy, care-free running and I finished feeling pretty good. I certainly "felt" more of the irritation at the end but no pain was involved and after using The Stick, it felt really good. I'm also going to pop ibuprofen to reduce any inflammation in the area. Basically, I'm just going to coddle the area and pay very close attention to how it truly is and let that guide when and how far I run.

I would like to wish all of you a very Happy 4th of July tomorrow! I hope you enjoy the holiday and also remember those servicemen and women who will celebrate this holiday away from their families whether it be aboard a ship or in the sand over in Afghanistan or Iraq. For those of you who don't know, we (the U.S.) launched a major offensive in southern Afghanistan against the Taliban just yesterday. One Marine has already given his or her life in the operation. Please remember what your countrymen are doing a half world away while we all enjoy our freedom. Below is a rendition of the Star Spangled Banner that just may produce some goose bumps on your neck. It is sung by the Gaither Vocal Band and is a fantastic version of our national anthem. Enjoy!

Happy Trails, everyone!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Anger Pointed Inward

Sorry for the blog-slacking this week. I've fell into bit of a recession this week, crawling into my own personal little shell and keeping it all in. Anger. That's what I've had...pointed inward. Let me explain:

First off, the Commandments say "Thou shalt not hate." They don't say not to be angry. I don't hate...that's for sure. But to say I don't get angry or for anyone to say that would be far from the truth. I have been for all my life a couple of things for sure. For one, I'm a bit of a loner. I've never been a member of the popular "groups" in grade-school nor in any other "circles" over the years. I tend to keep to myself and prefer being alone most of the time vs. being in a group. To that end, I've never really had "best" friends...outside of Marjie, my wife. She was my best friend pre-marriage and continues to be my one-and-only best friend. The other thing I am is a bit of a perfectionist. This marries up well with my Type A personality. (a typical trait of an ultrarunner, by the way...by far, the majority) Being a perfectionist, Type A, a planner, organizer...you get the idea, I like to have a plan or goal, execute it to the best of my ability, achieve it, then move on to another goal but higher the next time. These are great attributes to have in the workplace. They are also great traits to have as a leader and an officer in the Navy. They are also great to have as an ultrarunner when most sedentary folk look at me and think "You ran how far?! Why on earth did you do that?!" Take my running history, for example: I ran my first marathon in 1997 at Steamtown in Pennsylvania. Through last year, I logged 23 of these marathons. Up until my introduction to trail running and the 50K ultramarathon (a short up-tick of 5 miles over the marathon), I didn't even know there was a race distance exceeding the marathon distance. I had no idea. I never ran with anyone who mentioned them, didn't see mention of them in Runner's World, nor did I stumble on them via any other source. Finding out about the ultras broke open a whole new world for me in regards to my passion for running and again, marrying up this with my Type A, perfectionist type, the game was essentially ON.

Fast forward a bit to finally achieving my overall, singular goal: crossing the finish line of a hundred mile race. I did it. Not to be arrogant, but not achieving goals has not been part of my life much through 2008. It was dropping out of the Burning River 100 Mile Endurance Run last year that dealt a huge blow to my God-given wiring. Still, my 5-year-old's words "Daddy, did you quit?" immediately after getting in the car at Mile 55 continue to burn in my brain. For me, that is such a powerful, nasty word. I thought about that moment many times while running through the Kettle Moraine State Forest back on June 6th and 7th and I believe it was one kernel of memory that helped keep me going.

I've also had to grow in a whole different direction professionally. Up until April of 2008, that Type A personality worked well in my career choices and made perfect sense in pursuing and getting my MBA. However, entering a job with Uncle Sam last April that is so overwhelmingly heavy in workload forced me to realize that never again (in this occupation) will my work be complete, my desk be cleared off, or will loose ends be tied up when I go home for the evening. Learning how to exist in that without losing my mind and all self-confidence has certainly been a mountain of a challenge. Today, I feel confident that I've learned how to cope with it and manage it well. I will say, though, that my Kettle Moraine race number bib hanging at my desk does offer a bit of motivation! It also helps that I have a job where I can directly impact the down-trodden on a daily basis and serve them with the excellence that I have always strived to achieve in everything I have done and continue to do. That is the intangible part of the job that is the most rewarding.

So here I sit on a Thursday morning, looking forward to a federal holiday tomorrow on July 3rd in observation of the July 4th holiday on Saturday, and I have a whoppin' 5 miles on my running log since last Saturday's 31 miles on the Burning River course. Yea, you read that right...5 miles. Now that you "get" me a little better, are you figuring out where that anger-turned-inward might be coming from? Jump inside my head for a second...scary, I know! I finished the Kettle on June 7th understandably sore and in need of recovery, that's for sure, but withOUT injury. I knew for sure that the recovery from such a feat would be more lengthy than running 30 miles or 50 miles on a weekend. I took time off...well, some time off. By week 2, I was back at it already and by the end of week 3, 55 miles were logged for the week including that 31 miles. I have preached endlessly to many, many runners that "Your body will put you in check if you don't treat it right." I didn't have an injury I was running through, but I DID do too much, too soon. I KNEW my recovery was ongoing but I was "unable" to move away from the allure of getting back on the trails and coming alive again out there. I just wanted to get back in the saddle again. Well, my body has let me know just how unhappy it is with me and for that, I am downright angry at myself. No one forced those early miles on me...I did it myself. Now, I am hyper-sensitive 24hrs a day to how my right knee is feeling. I have a soreness that comes and goes just below the kneecap and moves to the outside of it but does not travel all the way up my leg...only a few inches. It feels best while walking and moving around and feels the worst while sitting at my desk at work. I don't call it an injury, more of a nagging irritation that needs to be dealt with. I feel that if I had recovered more smartly, it wouldn't be an issue at all. I think that early 20-miler did it 13 days ago, in fact. Ever since that morning, I've felt "something."

Each evening, Marjie asks "You running in the morning?" so that she can plan her run/walk schedule in the morning before I head off to work. I know she's been surprised to hear "No," "No," "No" so many times this week. One flippin' day of running this week and it was a garbage run in which I was confronted by 2 dogs in the street on Mr. Moon's rolling route where I run all of the time...where I was shouting at the top of my lungs for them to back off and go home. Talk about anger and frustration pouring out at 5am on a quiet country hill...

Today is another day off to rest. Tomorrow, I am going to run the trails for an easy, therapeutic 10 miles of softness. I am praying for nothing but goodness to come out of that run. The way I see it is this: I have 4 weeks until Burning River. I trained for months for the Kettle and running 100 miles three weeks ago was one heck of a "training run" for Burning River so I feel that I am trained well. However, I must get to the starting line at Squire's Castle on August 1st feeling healthy and injury-free if I am to cover the 100 miles of my only did-not-finish event of my life. That goal-setting-nature of mine has to conquer this event so that I can move on...to the next goal. The bar is not set higher right now...more at a stand-still until business is taken care of with the task at hand. I do fear losing fitness right now. I read an article in Trail Runner yesterday about losing fitness in down-times so that is a fear of mine. 4 weeks is still a long time so I don't want to lose so much of what I've worked so hard for.

For now, I am going to work on turning that anger into something positive and keep my head up. I really need a good trail run tomorrow.

Happy Trails, everyone!